Recycling plastic an opportunity for jobs

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A key objective in a Waste Authority report is to increase the recycling and recovery of valuable materials.

AHEAD of a forum discussing recycling plastic an expert says Australia’s recycling record is behind global standards and lags most OECD countries on diversion from landfill.

But at the same time international sustainability economist and plastic circular economies expert Doug Woodring believes this creates an opportunity for Australia to dominate the new $100 billion global plastic circular economy in Asia Pacific, if it acts now.

The same week Environment Minister Stephen Dawson called for Western Australians to contribute to the development of a new waste strategy.

Mr Dawson said the Waste Authority had prepared a paper to look at opportunities to improve WA’s waste and recycling performance which lagged behind other Australian jurisdictions.

Three key objectives are proposed to minimise environmental risk, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, avoiding the generation of waste, and increasing recycling and recovery of valuable materials.

Launching the consultation paper at Perth’s Foodbank during the week Mr Dawson householders, industry and the government to act to reduce the amount of waste they generated and to look at ways to recycle or reuse waste.

He said the government had already demonstrated its commitment to reducing waste, introducing a number of strategic waste reforms including the introduction of a container deposit scheme and a ban on lightweight single-use plastic bags.

“The Waste Authority’s review of the waste strategy provides an opportunity for all of us to work together to improve environmental outcomes, create employment and build businesses,’’ he said.

“Reducing the amount of waste disposed of to landfill can generate significant economic opportunities for the Western Australian community – for every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled, 9.2 full-time equivalent jobs are created compared with only 2.8 jobs when waste is sent to landfill.”

Foodbank – which accepts surplus food from companies – diverts thousands of tonnes of food from landfill to feed people in need.

Last year, Foodbank distributed more than 3.1 million kilograms of donated food – supporting charities and feeding 94,000 people every month.

Food and other organic waste makes up about two thirds of the municipal solid waste stream.

By avoiding food waste, companies and households can cut costs and reduce the pressure on landfill space.

In 2014-15, on average each Western Australian generated 2623kg of waste – the highest rate of waste generation in Australia per capita and 19 per cent above the national average.

The new strategy aims to bring WA’s waste generation in line with the national average, and new targets proposed in the consultation paper aim to recycle or recover 75 per cent of all waste by 2030.

The McGowan Government’s plan for a new waste strategy is open for public comment until March 1.

The Plasticity Sydney forum will be held on Tuesday, October 31 and will include discussions on topics such as designing for recycling and standardisation of materials, opportunities in manufacturing for the use of recycled content, innovations that reduce plastic waste impact and improve brand value, reverse supply chains, bring-back programs and how to engage customers, scaling for circular economies within industrial and municipal environments, turning waste streams into profit streams 
and the recycling tipping point – transforming public beliefs and actions.

For more information about the Waste Authority report, visit http://www.wasteauthority.wa.gov.au/about/waste-strategy/review-of-waste-strategy/